SBJ/January 23-29, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

PGA of America signs National Car Rental, Jani-King as sponsors

National Car Rental’s “Go like a pro” slogan now applies to golf.

National is one of two new sponsors — cleaning company Jani-King is the other — that have completed deals with the PGA of America just in time for this week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. Both companies are looking to tap into the network of golf professionals and country clubs to drive business.

Both new partnerships will be announced this week at the merchandise show. National and Jani-King will have display space there to begin the process of marketing to the PGA pros and others in the industry.

Both deals provide the sponsors with marketing rights to the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup, the Senior PGA and the Grand Slam of Golf, a competition that annually pits the four major champions.

Jani-King was a six-year partner with the PGA Tour before deciding to go in a different direction this year. The Dallas-based cleaning company has made a five-year commitment to the PGA of America.

Jani-King also is developing a roster of player endorsers: Chad Campbell, Harrison Frazar and Martin Flores.

National’s three-year deal with the PGA will be the car rental company’s primary platform for what chief marketer Patrick Farrell described as a strong move into golf.

“This is going to be part of a heavy spend in the golf space with TV, digital and print components,” Farrell said. “We were looking for a property that spoke to a very specific and narrow audience — the business traveler — with a very targeted message.”

Neither company released terms of their deals, but PGA sponsorships go for about seven figures annually, according to industry insiders.

The PGA’s highest level of patron sponsorships includes the class of American Express, Mercedes-Benz and Royal Bank of Canada. The next level counts KitchenAid, Lexmark, Omega, Pepsi and Westin as peers to newcomers National and Jani-King.

“This provides us with the assets to reach a lot of clubs and potentially provide a lot of business for our franchisees,” said Jerry Crawford, Jani-King’s president.

Crawford said Jani-King already services several hotels, motels, casinos, resorts and country clubs, and the PGA partnership will take the company deeper into the golf resort and club business.

The PGA deal is one of several that Jani-King has in sports where a sponsorship helps drive business-to-business relationships. Jani-King also works with TPC Sawgrass in golf, and a handful of facilities in the NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS and NFL, as well as handling the cleaning for a number of college facilities.

Mike Biggs, a former sports marketing consultant and 20 years ago a PGA of America executive, joined Jani-King recently as director of the company’s sports and venue program, and he will manage these relationships.

National, meanwhile, has been enjoying a resurgence in recent years after difficult times through the mid-2000s.

St. Louis-based National works with Cannonball, an advertising and promotions agency based near the headquarters. Cannonball also works with Anheuser-Busch brands Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. Fleishman-Hillard handles National’s public relations.

National’s advertising will target golf even more with buys on NBC, CBS, Golf Channel and Turner Sports, as well as the digital properties accessed by those networks.

National is determining how it will activate with the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C., in August and the Ryder Cup a month later in Chicago. National also will title sponsor the PGA’s assistant club pro championship for the next three years.

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